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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors - Game Preview

2010/2011 NBA Regular Season
11-24 15-21
Staples Center
January 9th, 2011, 12:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis PG Stephen Curry
Eric Gordon SG Monta Ellis
Ryan Gomes SF Dorell Wright
Blake Griffin PF David Lee
DeAndre Jordan C Andris Biedrins


The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

It's been a trying weekend at the Perrin household. First, a virus hit the family - ClipperMax was the first to succomb, running a termperature of 103 degrees for much of Friday. ClipperZoe, the ClipperWidow and myself have all fallen ill today. Then, in some weird biological to technological infection cycle, my PC got hit with a virus of its own. Has anyone out there experienced something called antiv? It pretends to be anti virus software, and won't let you run anything else because it says everything is infected with a virus. Essentially, it's holding my PC hostage, asking me to buy a license of this software, when of course no reputable software program would behave that way, and who knows how much worse it will get if I actually say, sure, I'll buy a license from you. I feel too crummy to trouble shoot it right now, so I'm just working on the netbook, which is much slower going. All of this is my way of saying, don't expect the most riveting preview here. If ever there were a time to mail one in, this is it.

As for the game, the Clippers are coming off a nice win over the Nuggets, and have won six of their last nine. Of their 11 wins this season, five of them have come against 20 win teams - the Thunder, Hornets, Spurs, Bulls and Nuggets. On the other hand, they've only won six games over teams with losing records, and half of those have conme against the Kings. The Clippers need to start taking care of business against the losing teams, especially at home. Home losses to Houston, Memphis, New Jersey and Detroit are among the team's worst losses this season. They need to avoid a similar fate against the Warriors. In the first meeting of the season, no one really had a good game; not Blake Griffin, not Eric Gordon, not Baron Davis, no one. That hasn't happened much this season, and I doubt it will happen this afternoon. I expect Griffin at least to have a huge game, extending both his double-double string to 23, and his 20-10 string to a dozen.

The Antagonist:

Golden State has been more than a little streaky this season. They opened the season with six wins in their first eight games. Then they lost 16 of their next 19.  Now they've won six of their last nine, just like the Clippers. So one of these teams is going to move to seven wins in their last ten games and perhaps start dreaming of making a run to get back into the playoff race, while the other is going to lament an opportunity lost. The Warriors are led by their dynamic backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, the same duo that Ellis thought would not be able to play together when the Dubs first drafted Curry in June 2009. Ellis is a consummate scorer, and at 25.6 points per game is currently third in the NBA. Curry is just a great all around player, with a beautiful shooting stroke and a basketball IQ off the charts. Unfortunately, they're not getting as much help from the front court as they had hoped. David Lee, acquired over the summer in a sign and trade with the Knicks, is averaging around 15 points and less than 10 rebounds per game, after putting up 20 points and almost 12 rebounds per game in New York last year. Lee is no doubt slowed by an elbow injury suffered earlier in the season - a career 55% shooter, he's shooting just 47.4% this season.

The Subplots

  • Wright stuff. Quick, which off-season acquisition is the third leading scorer on the Warriors after Curry and Ellis? If you answered David Lee, you'd be wrong. Lee is averaging 15 points per game, while Dorell Wright is averaging over 16. After spending his first six seasons in the league in Miami, where he scored 7 points in 21 minutes per game in his most productive season last year, he's become something of an ironman for coach Keith Smart in Oakland, as a full time starter averaging 39 minutes a night. He's shooting 41% from beyond the arc, and taking more than six threes per game.
  • Last 22. With a win today, the Clippers can move to 11-11 over their last 22 games. They'll still be 12 games under .500 after opening the season 1-13 of course, but it's a major improvement over the start they had nonetheless.
  • Curry hurting. Stephen Curry left the Warriors win over Cleveland on Friday with a bruised hip. He is likely to play against the Clippers today.
  • 25 per game, not an All Star? With Western Conference Guard being probably the deepest talent pool of any all star category, it seems unlikely that Monta Ellis will be selected for the All Star game in Los Angeles. If indeed that is the case, it would be the first time in years, perhaps the first time ever, that a player averaging 25 points per game at the time of the game would fail to be selected. The highest scoring snub I could find from recent years was Zach Randolph at 23.6 during his last season in Portland. (There are likely others that I'm forgetting.) But with Paul and Bryant and Williams and Nash and Ginobili all definitely ahead of Ellis in the pecking order, it seems likely that Golden State's sub-.500 record is going to keep him off the team. By the way, for those of you hoping that Eric Gordon is going to be an all star, forget about it. He has the same problem as Ellis, but is also beneath Ellis in the hierarchy.
  • Pace. The Warriors aren't the fastest paced attack in the NBA anymore, but they're fourth, and when they're clicking, they seem like the fastest team. They score a lot of points (102 per game) but are middle of the pack in offensive efficiency (14th). Their defense, on the other hand, is near the bottom of the league in efficiency (27th). I guess things haven't changed all that much since Smart took over for Don Nelson this year.
  • Differential. Despite the fact that Golden State has four more wins, the Clippers actually have the better point differential on the season (-3.4 to -3.9). That would indicate that the Clippers have been competitive in more losses, while the Warriors have been getting blown out.
  • Defending the Three. As is so often the case, the Clippers will need to defend the three point line effectively in order to win this game. In the first meeting, the Warriors made 14 of 24 from deep. The Warriors take almost 22 threes per contest, and are leading the league in 3 point percentage at over 40%. Three point shooting is going to be a huge stat in this game.
  • DeAndre Jordan. DeAndre Jordan has blocked 19 shots in three games. It seems too much to ask that he continue that prolific rate, but each of the last few games he has come out with such energy and activity, that he seems to get about five blocks in the first quarter. As a last line of defense stopping Ellis and Curry when they get into the lane, Jordan could be a major factor in this game.
  • De-fense!  Stopping the Warriors guards is no small task, and a key to the game is how the Clippers guards handle it.  Interestingly, Gordon was a teammate of Curry this summer with Team USA, and Davis and Ellis were teammates for a couple of seasons in Oakland.  They may or may not match up that way, but it would be interesting to see those battles of former teammates.
  • Speaking of Team USA.  You'll recall that Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry were reported to be on the bubble together during qualifying for Team USA.  The conventional wisdom, which turned out to be plenty conventional but not very wise, was that there was room for one of them on the roster as the designated shooter, but not for both.  When both were kept, many people thought that Curry would be ahead of Gordon on the depth chart, which also proved incorrect.  Gordon beat out Curry for playing time based on his defense, and on the fact that in Turkey, he shot every bit as well if not better than Curry.  They're very different players (which is why the either/or talk was so strange) - both great shooters, if Curry is probably a bit better.  Curry is a much better playmaker, but Gordon is better at getting to the rim. 
  • Baron the former Warrior.  Since joining the Clippers, Baron Davis has been something of a disappointment to be sure.  However, he's played very well against his former team (though he didn't play well in the first meeting this season).  Baron has 29, 25, 25, 25 and 21 in five of the seven games he's played against Golden State as a Clipper.  
  • Two meetings this week. The Clippers will meet the Warriors twice this week; today, and in Oakland on Friday.
  • Rest or Rust? The Clippers are sitll in the deathly slow portion of their schedule; they haven't played since Wednesday night, and not since blast Sunday before that. Will they benefit from extra practice and extra rest, or will they come out sloppy after three days off? The Warriors played Friday night, a win over Cleveland.
  • Superstar for one game.  Reggie Williams.  He's a great scorer, and he's lit up the Clippers before.
  • Famous Quotation:

    I saw pale kings, and princes too,
    Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
    They cried—"La belle dame sans merci
    Hath thee in thrall!"
    John Keats. La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.